Israel-Hamas: “minor” obstacles to an agreement on hostages

The conclusion of a deal on the release of hostages taken by the Palestinian movement Hamas during the October 7 attack on Israel is now based on “minor” practical issues, Qatar’s prime minister said on Sunday, without but , provide a calendar.

“The challenges that remain in the negotiations are much smaller (…) They are more logistical, they are more practical”, declared Mohammed bin Abdelrahmane Al-Thani during a press conference in Doha alongside the head of the Union’s diplomacy European , Josep Borrell.

Negotiations for an agreement have had “highs and lows in recent weeks. I think now I am more confident that we are close enough to reach an agreement that will allow these people (the hostages) to return home safely,” he added.

The attack by Hamas on Israeli soil on October 7 left 1,200 dead, mostly civilians, according to Israeli authorities who estimate that around 240 people were taken hostage by the Palestinian Islamist movement that day.

In retaliation, Israel vowed to “annihilate” Hamas, which seized power in Gaza in 2007. Israeli shelling of the Gaza Strip has since left 12,300 dead, mostly civilians, according to the Palestinian movement’s government.

Qatar, which hosts a Hamas political office, participated in mediation that led to the release of four hostages in October: an American woman and her daughter, as well as two Israeli women.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly said he rejects any ceasefire until all hostages have been released.

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